Friday, May 8, 2009

Metro Journal: May 7 Suicide By Foot

uni-station I had a job interview in Burbank at 9 this morning. Burbank is literally the next city west of Glendale, but it's actually kind of a pain in the ass to get there by bus, at least any place west of the Burbank Downtown "Media Center." I don't know why they call that specific area the "Media Center" because the studios (Warner Bros., Disney/ABC, NBC) are all actually on the southern edge of the city, closer to the west side than the east side. And why so few buses go through Glendale, or at least central Glendale, from the cluster of studios around Alameda Ave, I don't know, but it's a pain in the ass, let me tell you.

There is, however, a Commuter Express line that runs from Pasadena to Encino in the San Fernando "San Pornando" Valley. It stops about a mile from my place and stops about 2 blocks from my interview. Unfortunately, the last one leaves at, get this, 7:55AM, and would get me there 40 minutes before the interview, but the way it works out, the minimum of two Metro or Metro+BurbankBus buses it would have taken meant I would have had to leave my apartment around the same time (7:30, to be careful) to be careful. I opted for the Commuter Express.

Now, I have probably mentioned it before, but I am not a morning person. And I've been going to bed around 2AM without something to get me to stick with a regular schedule. But I was mostly awake and got moving this morning after not enough sleep. Now, my idea, IT geek that I am, of suitable interview attire is generally one of the subdued floral dresses or a simple skirt/shirt combo. Actually, I don't anything more formal than that. No "feminine" suits in my closet, and I'm not likely to put any in there because the only time I'm likely to wear them would be for job interviews. Look, this is IT. Most of the people interviewing me are wearing jeans and T-shirts anyway, so I am quite likely going to be the most well-groomed person in the room. When I checked the weather site, the high was forecast at 88F. Yuck. But my interview was early enough that that wouldn't be a problem. I did, however, opt for a black, short-sleeved rayon shirt-dress with a simple white floral print. Actually, it was the dress I wore to my father's funeral. While it survived unscathed, the decent black mary janes with the 1" heel I had somehow... melted? The finish wasn't scuffed but it was just gone. I don't know what happened, and they were several years old and hardly expensive to begin with so I wasn't going to feel bad, but I needed a new pair of semi-dressy black shoes. I ended up getting another pair of black mary janes, except with perhaps a slightly taller (1½") heel. Which is at least ½" too tall.

Now, you're saying to yourself, "Ok, why do we care about your shoes?" What, you don't see where this is going?

According to the Metro site, the Commuter Express stopped at the SW corner. There was no sign for it at the SW corner. I see a sign kitty corner. Yes, in fact, it stopped at the NE corner. Genius. I got there about 10 minutes early. When I got on the bus, it was mostly empty. It was one of those coach liners like I had taken last summer, so it was also comfy, but I didn't have a very long ride.

Now, they've been working on the area around the Alameda Ave/Hollywood Way intersection in Burbank for about forever and a day now. This means a lot of buses that are supposed to use that intersection have been re-routed. If there were ever those "this stop has been temporarily moved" signs posted, they have long since disappeared and haven't been replaced. I figured out more or less the corresponding stop on Riverside to get off at and was about 3 blocks from the building and 40 minutes early. Fortunately, they had a Starbucks in the lobby. I needed caffeine.

The interview went ok, I guess. I got out at 10, and direct sunlight was already really hot. Now, I had just replayed the now-ancient Pharaoh/Cleopatra city building game for the 6th zillionth time, and when I was looking up walk-throughs to remember which missions locked in to which mission track, I realized there was a newer "remake" by the same designer. I checked the Fry's website and it wasn't in stock at the closest Fry's in Burbank, but it was at the Woodland Hills location that's 3 zillion miles away. In fact, it was about a block away from the Orange Line terminus. And as I had just watched the bus that would have been the most direct route home go by and the next one wouldn't be for half an hour, I said, "Eh, what can a new pair of shoes do to me?"


Universal City Red Line Station -- The tiles tell the story of the area. It's too blurry to read, but it mentions the one-eyed Francisco Rico, who made the gunpowder for the Mexican defense of Los Angeles during the Mexican-American War from scratch! The opposite sides of the columns feature the same narrative in Spanish.

More proof that I cannot take a focused picture with my camera phone to save my life, this was an ad on the Red Line for some place that sells cheeseburger egg rolls. It implies that wimpy people can get regular chicken ones there, too. I think they confused wimpiness with people who are just going to eat someplace else, particularly as they didn't really pay attention to the name of the place.
I apparently just missed the last morning BurbankBus that went right from that area to the North Hollywood Orange and Red Line station because I couldn't find the damn temporary stop and even though I saw it go by, well, nothing to do. So I found the stop for a bus I knew went to the Universal City Red Line station (I had done a lot of research the night before) and there were two people waiting. I hadn't actually printed out the schedule, so I asked when the next one would be there, and we got to talking. Not sure how long we waited, but at least we had a shaded bench, so the time passed pretty quickly, and we took the 155 to Universal City.

I had never taken the Orange Line before. It's not actually a train like the other color-named Lines, but a transitway bus. It has a dedicated road where it can run 55 MPH, although it does have to stop at stoplights. It's one of the long accordion buses, and it was the first line Metro used them for. Apparently the state had to change the maximum bus length to accomodate them, although now a lot of regular lines use them, too. The Orange runs through the lovely San Fernando "We Put the 'Valley' in 'Valley Girl'" Valley. It was also the only color-name line I hadn't taken, so... I had 40 minutes to read my book! However, like a total moron (strike 2 for the day) I got off one stop ahead of where I meant to, which was especially stupid since I meant to get off at the end of the line. The bus runs about every 10 minutes in non-peak hours, though, so I only had to wait 10 minutes. I decided to see if I needed to band-aid a blister. Um, you don't want to know. I left my shoes off for the time being (no one else was waiting) and got my book out and read for a few minutes. When the bus came (you get a warning when it's about a minute out) I put the shoes back on.

The it's-actually-two-blocks-because-you-have-to-walk-from-the-middle-of-one-block-to-the-middle-of-the-block-one-over walk was, well, rather painful. Plus it was pretty hot out by now. Plus I was starting to realize I was pretty tired. I made it to Fry's found the game, left, and went back to the Orange Line stop to wait. The entire block between the two blocks is actually a Blue Shield campus. When I was walking by on the sidewalk both ways, there were different people smoking. I was thinking a medical care company probably wouldn't be too thrilled with employees that smoked, with good reason. Then I realized that since the sidewalk wasn't actually that close to any building because of the large grassy areas, the company probably doesn't even allow people to smoke anywhere on the property.

My feet really hurt at this point.

When I got to the Orange Line stop, I had just missed the previous bus, so I sat down to wait. I went to pull out my book and... shit! Fuck! It wasn't there! I realized I had almost certainly left it at the last stop. Crap! (Strike 3.) The thought of spending about two hours without reading material would have given me a nervous breakdown (I have a serious fear about that. Until someone who actually knows Koine Greek shows up, I'll call it chorisbibliophobia.) Plus I was in the middle of the book (The Terror by Dan Simmons and the thing is too suspenseful to, I don't know, hope I stumble across another lost copy. Then I recalled that we had passed a Borders between this and the next stop, but I couldn't remember where it was relative to the other stop. Turns out it was on the same block. When we pulled in to the stop I noticed that, yes, my book was gone from where I had left it (it had been an hour), so I got off and hoofed it, painfully, to the Borders, which, of course, was on the diametrically-opposed side of the strip mall. Fortunately, though, I found the book fairly quickly, and as a bonus, it was much more compact than the book club copy I had had. At 700+ pages, that makes a real difference. Also on the plus side, it had the same typesetting, preserving the page numbers. Whew.

I got a cold drink at the BevMo in the same mall, as I had emptied my water bottle (it was seriously fucking hot), and sort of shuffled back to the stop. The bus was getting much more crowded now, and between the lack of sleep, relatively early morning, heat, and the realization that I hadn't eaten solid food since about 7 hours before, I was really, really tired. But I had my book!

I knew that the 183 that went through Glendale hits the NoHo station about 40 minutes past the hour. We got there about 15 past. Good enough. Of course, it took my about 5 minutes just to figure out which corner of which intersection had the 183 stop. It was, of course, the stop with absolutely no shade and no place to sit, which seems especially absurd to me as 6 different lines stopped there and there was plenty of space for a shelter. However, across the street, there was a foofy cafe chain, so I went in and got a smoothie and felt much better and went outside and realized that both directions of the 183 stop there, yes, at the same stop. The first one to come was the westbound (wrong) one, but to double check because it's just weird, I asked the driver if the Glendale one also stopped here, and he said yes. It came a couple of minutes behind schedule, but I wasn't going to complain. It was pretty crowded, though, and of course all the empty seats were by windows and the people sitting on the aisles were the type that give you dirty looks because, um, hello, you'd like to sit down. I especially hate it when they won't stand up for 5 seconds to let you in and just swivel, because it's not like there's really room to squeeze past, people.

Anyway, 183, I was on over an hour, I managed not to fall asleep, I got a little reading done, and I got to my stop. I shuffled home, and, of course, the first thing I did was... take off my shoes. Then I realized the apartment was really fucking hot, so I closed the windows and turned on the AC. Then I checked the weather site and they had actually (the perfidious bastards) raised their forecasted high to 96F, which was totally not what it had said at 7AM. Usually they just leave the forecast as is, which, of course, does look really dorky when the current temperature is almost 10 degrees higher. My AC can't catch up at that point, so I just kind of melted onto the floor... And it was actually still above 90 outside until about the time the sun went down. How fucked up is that? Well, supposedly it's "only" going to be 88F again tomorrow... Yeah, I'm not buying it, either.

Ok, I think my bedroom is cool enough for me to sleep. If I manage to wake up while movie tickets are still at matinee price, maybe I'll go to see Star Drek in a nice, air-conditioned theater. (I am, and not entirely intentionally, keeping my expectations low.)

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